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Why has nobody invented the curved slider yet?

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Dylan Hargreaves
Why has nobody invented the curved slider yet?
on Nov 2, 2012 at 2:14:33 pm

I would've thought it would be the next logical step for the tripod-mounted slider manufacturers, and surely easy enough to do.

Those skater wheeled table top dollies are the closest thing in terms of a small portable device that will give you a curved tracking shot, but they're limited by needing a flat surface around their subject which is more or less at the same height.

Seems there's a gap in the market here...


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Mark Suszko
Re: Why has nobody invented the curved slider yet?
on Nov 2, 2012 at 2:27:01 pm

There's more work in stabilizing curved track in 3 axes, and bending the exact curves takes extra expense in manufacturing. Sliders compete on cost.


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Dylan Hargreaves
Re: Why has nobody invented the curved slider yet?
on Nov 2, 2012 at 6:29:16 pm

Yeah, but still... A well designed piece of kit that does what it sets out to do will always find a place within the market, and I don't think the cost of a curved slider would necessarily be prohibitive...


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Mark Suszko
Re: Why has nobody invented the curved slider yet?
on Nov 2, 2012 at 6:59:27 pm

But the curve is what complicates things... how "curved" need it to be? What radius? It probably needs to be variable. That implies a structure something like a human spine, articulated. Or a bendable track or pair of tubes with the ability to lock to a frame along different points to make the curve whatever you need.

This complicates the tools and materials needed and time and money as well. There must be twenty different competing sliders out there right now, in a price war, plus how-to plans for the DIY set. At that point, it would be less hassle to bring folding sawhorses and lay conventional dolly track.


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Todd Terry
Re: Why has nobody invented the curved slider yet?
on Nov 2, 2012 at 8:24:08 pm

Awwww... Mark, you're overthinking it. Flexible track (the rubber kind) is a relatively new thing. Filmmakers worked pretty well for the better part of a century with track that had a fixed radius.

We're working on this at our company, actually. Firstly, to make a product for ourselves... and then if it's feasible we just might market it.

The watchwords are fast, easy, and lightweight... something that conventional track and a dolly are none of.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Mark Suszko
Re: Why has nobody invented the curved slider yet?
on Nov 2, 2012 at 9:06:12 pm

Terry:

Keep the slider straight, add on an accessory that's a large circular piece which will trace out a cycloid... like the accessory pack in the old "Spirograph" toy of our youth. Some kind of counter-grat keeps the camera plate facing the right direction as the wheel adds in-and-out action to the slider's left-to-right action...

or just use the GD jib again:-)


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Angelo Lorenzo
Re: Why has nobody invented the curved slider yet?
on Nov 2, 2012 at 10:15:10 pm

It's been around for quite a while. Rubber dolly track does the trick and there are a number of pre-built and DIY systems that look similar to http://www.hv20.com/showthread.php?9867-DIY-Flexible-track-Dolly

I've used them, and to be honest they kind of suck.

The other would be a fixed system and there are smaller corner pieces like this http://www.adorama.com/LBCR90.html?gclid=CMixrf2lsbMCFQ6CQgodOiMABw but these are mostly for non-standard systems... make sure your wheels fit the pipe radius and spacing for this and similar products.

Storing curved dolly track takes a lot of space and with cheaper systems you sacrifice stability for portability.

Because of minimum focus distance, any engineering has to take into account a circle diameter of at least 4-6 ft. Matthews, for instance, makes a 20' circle and a 70' circle.

With all that said... it's almost always easier to use a diagonal straight move with a camera pan. Only once you have to circle 90+ degrees do you need to rely on circle track.

Angelo Lorenzo
Fallen Empire Digital Production Services - Los Angeles
RED transcoding, on-set DIT, and RED Epic rental services
Fallen Empire - The Blog
A blog dedicated to filmmaking, the RED workflow, and DIT tips and tricks


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Todd Terry
Re: Why has nobody invented the curved slider yet?
on Nov 3, 2012 at 2:45:00 am

As I said, this is something we've been working on a bit and mulling over for a long time. It might not be right for everyone, but in our particular business and the way that I personally work a curved slider would be infinitely helpful.

A buddy and I started thinking about this a few years ago. He is the unusual combination of both a physicist and a metal craftsman, and with me a cinematographer we thought we could come up with something. My first idea was actually completely different... it was a straight slider (and a much bigger one than the little DSLR sliders you see all over eBay, it was more the size you see on feature films under the "big boy" cameras). The different thing about our slider was that the carriage would turn, and as you slide it from end to end a camera would track a single pivot point... and of course you could adjust the distance of the pivot. Center an object, say 8 feet from the slider (or whatever you set it at), and as the carriage slides from end to end the camera stays pointed exactly at that object.

We built a prototype, and although the engineering and mechanics of it were a bit more complicated that I initially envisioned, in the end the mechanics were sound.... but it was a pretty clunky device... big, heavy, a bit finicky, and wasn't nearly as silent as we'd like. The parts are still laying around, but we haven't worked on it in a long time.

Later, I got to examining the way I shoot. I found myself very often laying out one piece of curved track... for a short arc around talent... just two or three or four feet, enough to give a talking head some interest. That's when we started developing the idea for a curved slider.

The one we intend to build has a six-foot radius... i.e. talent or an object six feet from it would be frame-center no matter what the position of the carriage. I came by the six-foot distance just by my own practice... that's about the distance of talent-to-film-plane that I usually put talent for good shots with 35mm, 50mm, and 80mm lenses... which are the primes I most commonly use.

Stay tuned, Dylan... we hope to have something to report soon.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Dylan Hargreaves
Re: Why has nobody invented the curved slider yet?
on Nov 4, 2012 at 9:46:43 am

Cheers for the input all. The company that builds one of these first could make a lot of money... A lot of shooters out there looking for their next shiny new toy. Stick a Philip Bloom signature on it and flog it for twice the price!


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